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Hire Right: Domtar Production Manager Attests to the Structured Board Interview

Hire Right: Domtar Production Manager Attests to the Structured Board Interview

Fresh out of college, Sue Wiggins started her career at Domtar, a paper, pulp and packaging company based in Fort Mill, South Carolina. After 21 years working in a variety of roles, Sue was promoted to Production Manager in January 2022 at the Washington Courthouse, OH Plant. For two decades, she helped hire employees based on the 15dots® Selection Process. It’s the only hiring process she ever used, and for good reason. The system works. In this article, she shares the reasons why a Structured Board Interview (SBI) is so effective. First, some explanations about the structured interview process.

What is a Structured Board Interview?

A SBI is an employee selection process in which a panel of four team members interview job applicants. Essentially, the SBI replaces one-on-one interviews performed by a single HR professional.

A structured board interview:

  • Follows a pre-established, structured sequence of specific questions
  • Is conducted by people who are trained in interviewing 
  • Takes place in a highly organized setting
  • Is an exact, standard process, not a freewheeling, off-the-cuff or arbitrary activity
  • Is conducted after applicants are tested and tour the facility to experience the work environment, thus giving them an opportunity to opt out before the interview

Interview & Pre-employment Testing

A SBI occurs after applicants complete pre-employment tests. However, applicants don’t have to score above a threshold in order to be interviewed. That’s an advantage of this process. The test and the interview scores are combined for an overall score. Those on the panel never know a test score before the interview, so they go into an interview as unbiased as possible. The 15dots process takes into account that not everyone does well at testing and not everyone is comfortable in a group interview setting. Thus, it gives both types of individuals a chance to be hired, instead of knocking them out of the process halfway through.

Hiring Quality vs. Quantity Candidates

Like other 5P industries, Domtar is struggling with manpower. Unlike 10 years ago, the company doesn’t have a readily available pool of candidates. Yet Domtar remains true to the structured board interview process. Because the plant is already short-staffed, it may seem counterproductive to pull four people from their work to conduct job interviews. Although it takes more time and effort, the SBI absolutely yields better results. If companies do the process correctly, the quality of candidates is better – and quality trumps quantity.

Learning the Art of Interviewing

Because they’ll be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the new hires, the existing employees get a say in the selection process. Domtar trains both hourly and salary employees as interviewers, to achieve a well-rounded board. By conducting SBIs, employees gain a better understanding of the hiring process. They are far less likely to say, “HR can’t get us people” or “HR doesn’t know what we’re looking for.”

Reducing Bias with a Board Interview

An individual interviewer may think he or she is unbiased, making hiring decisions based on facts, but that isn’t necessarily true. Sue firmly believes that HR officers hire applicants who are like themselves. They select applicants they “like.” However, that doesn’t mean the applicant is a good fit for the job. That’s the beauty of the board interview – four decision-makers instead of one. The board discusses each candidate and reaches a consensus regarding how the candidate fits the jobs.

Asking Behavioral-based Questions

The behavioral-based questions in a SBI are so important. History is the best predictor of how a candidate will perform in the future. Therefore, if candidates have good examples of how they used their skills in the past, that’s assurance they can do so in the future. An applicant can tell a panel what they would do in a given situation, because they know what interviewers want to hear. However, interviewers need to find out what candidates actually have done in the past, backed by specific examples.

Hiring Employees with Ability & Motivation

When Domtar is hiring, the company looks beyond entry-level positions. Domtar promotes from within its facility, looking for applicants capable of entry-level roles and the next jobs down the road. Some HR professionals just want someone in the door because they need people on the floor. This solves the entry-level staffing problem, but it isn’t a long-term solution. Employers also want hires equipped with the ability and motivation to move up in the company and make a lasting impact.

Conducting Structured Board Interviews

Domtar uses the SBI process, and Production Manager Sue Wiggins fully believes in its effectiveness. Although structured board interviews may take longer to complete than a one-on-one interview, the results are far better and more reliable. The ability to conduct effective, standardized interviews is a teachable skill. Thus, 15dots offers expert-led Virtual Structured Board Interview training sessions in which participants gain the confidence and learn the techniques necessary to be effective interviewers. Contact 15dots to register or to learn more.

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